Dear Mr. King,
First off I want to say that I’m a big fan. When I was growing up I was always told that horror novels were evil and I shouldn’t read them. But I always wondered what it was people were so afraid of. As an adult I decided to finally see for myself. The first book of yours I ever read was IT, right after I finished a week of grueling law school exams. I read it constantly, for days, in a fever. It was a singular reading experience, where the book was there for me when I needed an escape and I became immersed in it in a way I hadn’t since I was a child.
Now I count myself a horror fan and I read a few horror novels every year. So thanks for that.
But I do have just this one request: could you please re-write the end of IT?
(Spoilers follow, though if you’re like me the ending of IT was spoiled for you long before you read it because it’s just one of those things people talk about.)
There are two reasons for this request and I doubt either of them is news to you or anyone who’s read the book.
First, let’s just replace that sex scene (YOU KNOW WHICH ONE). I’ve heard that you included this scene as a way to turn the Losers Club from children to adults. And I understand your motives and how they work with the plot. But can you possibly find another way to do that?
There’s a lot of eww here. The kids in the Losers Club are eleven years old. That is too young to be capable of consent. It’s hard to feel that several acts of statutory rape, child molestation, or whatever you want to call it are setting up a triumphant finish. While defenders may say Beverly did it all willingly, Beverly literally could not do so. Neither could any of the boys. And since Beverly is the only girl of the group and it appears that everyone’s having heterosexual sex, her role as some kind of vessel for the boys is demeaning and not worthy of her heroic character.
I know you wrote this book a long time ago and we think about sex differently now. But I’d also argue that citing sex as the thing that changes someone from a child into an adult is pretty unfair. Children who are sexualized young (as I said earlier, before they can consent) can be traumatized by that scene. Adults who haven’t lost their virginity can find it condescending. Having sex no longer equals a loss of innocence the way it once did.
Above all it just pulls you out of the story. Instead of rallying around friendship and love, it’s a record scratch moment that makes readers feel upset and betrayed. We’ve been with you for many hundreds of pages, it’s hard to get thrown so near to the end.
I know a re-write is kind of a big demand. But it doesn’t need to be a full re-write, just a small one. You’ve revisited The Shining with Doctor Sleep, you released alternate versions of The Stand and The Gunslinger, so it’s not a totally new thing. And I guarantee you that a lot of us who haven’t ever bought a copy would happily do so if we enjoyed the ending more.
And, if by some crazy chance you agree, would it be possible to change It itself? Because the only bigger letdown than the creepiest group sex scene in fiction is learning that the creepiest clown in pop culture is not really a clown. I’m just saying, if we can somehow figure out a fuller clown-based mythology I would not be able to read this book at night time. Which is the sign of a real horror masterwork.
I hope you’ll consider my request. I promise if you do I will personally buy 5 copies.
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